We normally offer a class on world missions for our children on Wednesday nights while the adults are in Bible study. This last week our teacher was on vacation, so the children were in with the adults. We were on the second week of James 5:13-20, discussing elders, anointing the sick with oil, the connection between sickness and sin, confession, prayer, and turning the wayward back to the truth. The time began with a cappella singing of Psalms 7 and 67 (from the ARP Psalter, one of the best out there).
After dismissal, I heard something that is one of those magical moments in ministry. While everybody was standing around talking (mostly focused on the adorable one-year-old girl telling a story in the corner), a boy asked his dad, “what did pastor mean when he said…?” I didn’t hear the rest of the question, but I didn’t need to. This is exactly how it’s supposed to work.
“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ…fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18b-21; 6:4). The outflow of the Spirit-filled gathering of the Church is the training of the children by fathers. And, as Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; 31:26 shows, the mother also teaches the children “the Law” (תּוֹרָה) – not her own Law, but the Law of her God she had been taught by her parents.
That same Law commands the fathers to teach the children (Deuteronomy 4:9,10; 6:7; 11:19; see also Psalm 34:11; 44:1; 71:18; 78:3-8; Isaiah 38:19), but also assumes the children are capable of participating in the faith-life of the people and will ask the meaning of the things that are done in a household organized around faith in God (Exodus 12:26,27; 13:14; Deuteronomy 6:20,21; Joshua 4:6,21). This is what thrilled my heart Wednesday night: the Scripture was acted out in a mostly-hidden moment. It was normal, it was right, and it was good to see the Spirit work according to His Word.
This is how it is supposed to be.